New report questions wine’s health claims
We probably say, “It’s wine-thirty somewhere” at least once a week around these parts. And for some time now, we’ve thrown shade at those who questioned us as we said it. After all, we’ve had science on our side, with studies showing moderate alcohol drinkers add years to their lives.
But it turns out all that glass clinking may not be helping us after all. According to a report in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, moderate drinking may not be so healthy.
In a meta-analysis of 87 studies in which health benefits had been attributed to moderate alcohol drinking, including reducing the risk of heart disease, researchers discovered a surprise. Tim Stockwell, Ph.D., lead researcher and director of the University of Victoria’s Centre for Addictions Research in British Columbia, Canada, said many of the studies had design flaws.
The major problem: Confusion about the definition of drinkers and nondrinkers. Studies often compare moderate drinkers (two drinks a day for men, one for women) with people who don’t drink. But Stockwell said the nondrinkers include people who stopped drinking for health reasons, making drinkers appear healthier. When researchers adjusted for this study design flaw, they found the health benefits of moderate drinkers were overestimated.
Occasional drinkers—people who have less than one drink per week—in the study lived the longest, but according to Stockwell, it’s unlikely their rare drinking was linked to longevity. “Those people would be getting a biologically insignificant dose of alcohol,” he said.
Does this mean you have to give up that glass of Merlot with dinner? We’re not going that far! We’ll need much more research before we can say moderate drinking is bad for you. Just drink in modification—and stop feeling superior